Kit Kat in Japan 3

Posted May 31st, 2010 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Beauty + chocolate?  It’s like… every girl’s dream coming true! I

Kit Kat in Japan is now selling special collaborative items – with TBC : one of the most popular beauty salons in Japan.

The flavors of the “Kit Kat x TBC” are Aloe Yoghurt and Bitter Almond.  Sounds delicious!

And, there are new flavors in Japan’s Kit Kat in addition to my previous posts Kit Kat in Japan and Kit Kat in Japan 2.

Strawberry Cheese Cake


Japan’s Robotics Invention

Posted May 30th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Using technology originally developed for ASIMO the robot, Honda produced a personal mobility device U3-X.  Housed within the large wheel are a series of smaller wheels that can rotate independently, allowing the awkwardly perched user to go forward, backward, side-to-side or diagonally.

I always get overwhelmed by Japanese technology…  I mean, there are similar products such as Segway and Winglet, but Honda keens to point out that this U3-X is portable (less than 10 kg) and easy to use, with fold away footrests and seat cushions.


Honda U3-X

Maybe we will see elderlies using this compact U3-X around the house in near future 🙂


At Friend’s House

Posted May 29th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

Last night I was invited to my friend’s house for dinner. The couple (and one kid) is leaving Australia for good, and going to live in their hometown, Tokyo.  I miss them, and I must say I’m a little envious.  They are going back to the place where their families and friends are.  I could feel they’re excited 🙂

Other friends were also invited to the dinner, and this couple made Pupusa – El Salvador’s version of the tortilla – with cheese and zucchini for us.  It was my first time to eat Pupusa, and I really loved it!  Grated zucchini and cheese are wrapped inside the cornflour dough, then flatten and shape, and grill with butter until crispy.  I would definitely want to try making this dish at home.  This was served with tomato salsa, and it matched with melty cheese… It was delicious.

This friend was married to a guy from El Salvador, and she told me that she makes pupusa everyday for the husband.  Although Pupusa is a delicious dish, we wondered if he is ever going to be bored with eating pupusa everyday, but then realized that this dish is like steamed rice to him.  We, Japanese, won’t get bored with eating rice everyday.  It’s a same thing 😀

The host (the couple leaving Australia) made several foods, including potato salad with avocado and aioli sauce, rice noodle salad (Japanese style), chicken nanban with homemade tartar sauce, and! simmered Go-ya salad with dried bonito flakes. She is an amazing cook.

On the other hand, I just brought Fish Head Mee Fun. :p  My husband assumed that they won’t be able to eat this Malay Chinese dish in Japan (I agree), so we bought one normal one with clear soup, and one in laksa.  I hope they enjoyed it.

We ate so much….. I felt heart-burn when I woke up this morning. (><)

…  today’s bagels.

It’s getting cold and difficult to manage the yeast-proofing timing.  (although summer has the same problem as the temperature is too high: around 40°, and the dough proof very quickly.

I’m off to go now!

Cheese Cake

Posted May 28th, 2010 in Food | 10 Comments »

I’m sure cheese cake is one of the popular cakes among all countries.  Perth too, I see cheese cakes at most of the cake shops and even in the supermarkets here.  But, most of them are too sweet to me.  That’s why I don’t usually buy cakes from shops here, and try to make by myself.

The other day I baked Souffle Cheese Cake and gave the half piece to my sister in-law.   I told her “it’s souffle cheese cake”, then she asked me “is it same as the one they sell at the shops here?”.  I wasn’t quite sure if there’re any shops selling souffle cheese cake in Perth, so I told her “I’m not sure, but this is not a baked cheese cake.”

I was surprised that she didn’t know the difference between “baked” cheese cake, “souffle” cheese cake, and “raw” cheese cake.  She thought all the cheese cakes are baked in the oven.  I was surprised, because she is the type of person who goes out very often and eat out at many nice restaurants.  She likes food, and knows many kinds of famous franchise shops around the world.  So, I assumed that she would know the differences in different types of cakes.

Anyway, after the conversation, I realised that cheese cakes sold here are called just “cheese cakes”.  In Japan we have several types of cheese cakes, and the main three types are “baked”, “souffle” and “raw”.  Raw cheese cake is the one which the filling is set using gelatin, and served chilled.

I’ve been making cheese cakes with different recipes lately, and one question came up to me.

What do people in Perth look for in cheese cakes?  Is it the rich cheese-y taste?  Is it the moist texture?  Or, would people like fluffy sponge-like cheese cake?

But, I think, people here prefer the cheese cake with rich, melty texture.  Can anyone give me any advice??

Autumn Food in Perth

Posted May 27th, 2010 in Perth WA | 2 Comments »

It’s really getting cold in Perth ~….  (do I say this too much? :p )

I really miss kotatsu: which is a wooden table with electric heater built in, and covered by a heavy blanket.  People in Japan spend most of the day around this kotatsu.  We don’t stay inside of the blanket, as it’ll get really hot, but we keep out legs and sometimes half the body inside the blanket and watch tv.  Most of the case we fell asleep after few hours…

I like winter, love the cold air and the snow.  It was snowing heavily when I was born, my mum says.  I was born in February, and the road was frozen when my mum had to rush into the hospital.  It was very early morning, around 2am, and the outside was pure white because of the snow.

One thing I don’t like about winter is the short daytime.  The sun shows up late, and sun goes down early.  It starts to get dark around 5pm these days.  So, if I want to take some pictures I need to do it before 3~4 pm and it is quite a rush to me.

In this cold weather, what I miss is the hearty Japanese winter food.  You can enjoy some of them, including sukiyaki and oden at some Japanese restaurants.  Or, you can simple make them by yourself!  Check out delicious Japanese beef curry recipe from here , or add tomato and arrange it into a soupy Japanese curry like this recipe here.  I also recommend white stew (in Japan we call it “cream stew”) in winter.  Check the recipe here.  Making them are very easy.  You can buy a packet of roux from grocery shops, and you’ll just need to add some vegetables and meat.  Leave it overnight for deeper, developed flavor.

If you want to make oden, the best place to go for shopping is Emma’s Seafood grocery store in Northbridge, I think.  They sell many Japanese products including oden seasoning, and also fish cakes for oden are available inside the store.  I sometimes buy 1 kg of them and do oden party here 😀  You’ll also need konnyaku, daikon radish, firm tofu and boiled eggs etc for oden.  The best thing to add is gyu-suji (bits of beef tendon) if you can find!  Great with warm sake.

Okinawan Food

Posted May 25th, 2010 in Japan | 4 Comments »

While I was in Japan few months ago, there was a tv show featuring the healthy diet taken by Miss Universe candidates.  Erica Angyal, who is from Sydney Australia, is a nutritionist who works for Miss Universe Japan as a health consultant, and on the tv show she flew to Okinawa to discover what is so good about Okinawan food and why people in Okinawa live longer than anyone else in the world.

Okinawa is one of Japan’s southern prefectures, and consists of hundreds of islands in a chain over 1,000 km long.

It was only 100 years ago that the kingdom of Okinawa was incorporated into Japan, and the southern islands still maintain their own distinctive culture, language and cuisine. Okinawan cooking tends toward stronger and spicier flavors than Japanese food, and is more heavily influenced by Chinese cooking styles.

I’d say Okinawa has the strongest accent in their language as Japanese among all the prefectures in Japan.  Osaka people speak Osaka dialect, and Fukuoka people speak Fukuoka dialect.  Some of them are very difficult to listen to, but still understandable.  But, Okinawan language is very different!  That’s what makes this place to be a popular tourist destination for other Japanese people.  Different culture, different life style, and different food.  But, still the same country.

The food you see in Okinawa often contain pork and seafood.  Pork is a very important ingredient there, and every part of the pig is used: including feet, ears to tripes.  And, because Okinawa has a tropical climate and is surrounded by ocean, many local seafoods and seaweeds are used in cooking, and some of them are not available in Japan’s main island.

Other foods that are commonly used in Okinawan cuisine are black sugar, tropical fruits and vegetables, brawn rice, and awamori, which is an Okinawan brandy-like liquor made from rice.  Okinawan people are known as big drinkers! (awamori is very strong alcohol drink)

The reason why Okinawan people are the most long-lived on earth is not only these food.  It’s because of HOW people eat them everyday.  Their everyday meal contains rice, soup, and few side dishes.  There are many vegetables, seaweed and seafood used, and the common cooking method is stir-frying.  They use olive oil very often too.  Eating many kinds of food everyday is very ideal thing in order to take different nutritions.  Besides, most of the food they eat are very healthy – seaweeds are good for skin and hair, brown rice is more nutritious than white rice, and seafood gives you Omega-3 which can help to lower the amount of cholesterol in the body.

I’ve been to Okinawa twice in my life:  the first time was to join the home-stay program at American family in Okinawa vase.  I was 17 years old, and I organised everything by myself …  all  my family was so worried, but I wasn’t.  I had a big interest in foreign country (English) and wanted to experience something unique.  The second time was to get scuba diving licence in Okinawa.  I organised this by myself too, I even bought some equipments for the trip including dry suit and an under-water camera. :p

While in Okinawa, I enjoyed Okinawan food everyday.  There are few small restaurants around the hotel I stayed, and these restaurants served home-style Okinawan food.   Very delicious!   Typical Okinawan food such as chanpuru dishes including tofu chanpuru and go-ya chanpuru, and rafuti (pork stewed in miso, soy sauce, sugar and awamori).

If you get a chance to visit this “health paradise”, here are the list of Okinawan food I recommend! :

Tofu chanpuru – stir-fried tofu dish

Go-ya chanpuru – stir-fried go-ya (bitter melon) dish

Rafuti – slow cooked, stewed pork

Taco rice – basically a taco that uses rice instead of a taco shell.

Mimigaa – pig’s ear in vinegar

Saataa andagi – Okinawan doughnuts

(photos from Kinki Tourist and Okinawa Council websites)

Eating All Day

Posted May 24th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

It was a weekend with lots of food for me…  wake up, eat bagel, get Happy Meal from McDonald’s, have a muffin + black coffee at Fast Eddy, then dinner at South Ocean …  I really wonder where this appetite comes from.

Reading the paper is a thing that keeps me connecting to the world: although some of them are not pleasant news such as government mining tax (it affects the value of Australian dollars) and Rick Harts bankruptcy (because I still have a gift voucher).  I seldom get to watch/read news on tv and internet (I really should do that), so going to the cafes and browsing the paper while sipping the coffee is kind of a good chance to educate myself.  It’s good that McDonalds breakfast McValue Meal comes with a copy of The West Australian (only for limited time though)

By the way, my brother’s birthday is coming up!  I buy a birthday cake online and get it sent to the house every year for him 😀   I’m still choosing what cake I should buy this year…  ummm,  I would make one for him if I was in Japan!

The Raw Food and Smoothie Bar

Posted May 23rd, 2010 in Eat out in Perth | No Comments »

After reading the reviews of The Raw Kitchen, I was excited to try out their food at Raw Food and Smoothie Bar in Fremantle Markets.  All the food they serve there are raw (uncooked), including sweet nuts and chocolate balls and delicious pizza.

When I arrived the stall, the owner couple (I believe) looked so busy as there was a line of people waiting to order.  The hand-written menu board, the showcase of ready-made food and the cook books of healthy food arranged on the top of the counter.. although the shop is small, everything around there looked so simple and natural.

As my turn came, I ordered one of their “raw” smoothie, Bananarama, which contains fresh banana, almond milk etc.  He opened the fridge and put a couple of banana and some ingredient into a blender, and few seconds later my smoothie was done!

Wow..  it looked so thick!  Freshly made with real banana…

I loved the taste, I must say.  Especially, knowing that there is no “unwanted” or “additional” ingredients used, I’m glad that I tried.

The pizza looked so nice too, but my stomach was pretty full from the lunch I had just few minutes ago and I only had a space for 1 glass of smoothie then.  I’d like to try out their food and sweet on my next visit.

I love their concept, being eco and animal friendly.  The owners have a strong passion for raw food, and they believe that health can be achievable by eating nourishing food.  Their greatest passion is for the education of kids, and they offer a variety of workshops and information classes where people can learn what’s so good about eating raw food.

This is the place where you can enjoy the real healthy food made by people who care.

Celebrating PacMan’s 30th Birthday

Posted May 22nd, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

You may have played this Pac-man game before, an arcade game developed by Namco.  Or you may at least have heard the name before.  This game was first released in Japan on May 22, 1980.  Which means…. it is Pac-Man’s 30th birthday today!

If you go to today, you can enjoy Pac-Man game for free!


If you double click the “Insert Coin” button, you will get …

Ms. PacMan joined to the game. 😀

You can also play the game after today by finding the logo here in Google’s logo archives. Just look it up in the 2010 April-June section. That’s where it will be filed, in the future.

Pom Poko – Ghibli

Posted May 20th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

It sounds like I’ve been watching Japanese cartoon at home almost everyday, as I’ve just wrote about Tales of Earthsea, but I do enjoy watching cartoon quite often.  I rented this Ghibli film “Pom Poko” (1994) just recently and I must say I did enjoyed the whole story.

Well, I’ve already watched this film few times in the past, but watching it again here in Perth reminded me of all the feelings about Japan and made me to rethink about the cohabitation of humans and animals.

The story is about tanuki, Japanese raccoon dogs, trying to survive the late 1960s.  A gigantic and ongoing suburban development near Tokyo, Japan, threatens a group of wild tanuki.  As the development is cutting into their forest habitat, tanuki had to think what they should do to protect their land from humans.

In this film, you can enjoy listening to lots of old Japanese songs including antagata-dokosa (a traditional warabe uta of Kumamoto prefecture) , and the appearance of famous Japanese monsters and mythological creatures.  In Japanese folklore tanuki has supernatural shape-shifting powers to trick humans. In this film tanuki transform themselves into Japanese monsters and mythological creatures to scare people: such as rokurokubi, noppera-bo and fujin raijin.

The film ends on something of a bittersweet note for the tanuki.  Throughout the film there is a lot of comedy as well as ecological messages.  The film reminds me of old Japan, especially the time I was a kid.  Japan has changed a lot, I think.  No one would believe that I was climbing on trees, catching zarigani (crawfish), fighting with wild monkeys and playing with beautiful medaka (killifish) just 10 years ago near my house!

(Pom Poko Characters )